Heat Safety for People and Pets in Vehicles

Posted at 1 p.m.

heat safety for people and pets

With the summer months upon us, now is the time to learn about the dangers of heatstroke and being trapped in a hot car. Heatstroke is dangerous and can be deadly.

Never leave children, pets, or older adults unattended in a parked car.

Unfortunately, children mistakenly being left in hot vehicles make up many of the tragedies reported each year.

Use the following life saving tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind yourself and others to check the back seat before walking away from a vehicle.

  • Look Before You Lock. Get into the routine of always checking the back seat of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
  • A Gentle Reminder. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it is empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Alternatively, place your phone, briefcase, or purse in the back seat when traveling with your child.
  • A Routine Check. If someone else is driving your child, or you alter your daily routine, always check to make sure your child has arrived safely.
  • A Key to Safety. You know to keep your vehicle locked, but also keep your keys out of reach; nearly 3 in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.
animation of heat in vehicles

Animation Courtesy of General Motors and San Francisco State University.

On a warm day, temperatures can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. Even with the windows slightly open, the temperature in a car on a 93-degree day can soar to 125 degrees in just 20 minutes and approximately 140 degrees in 40 minutes.

Keep Your Pets Safe Too

Rolling down the windows has little effect on the temperature inside a car. High temps can cause organ damage and even death for our furry friends.

If your pet shows any of the following signs contact your veterinarian immediately:

  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Profuse salivation

Take steps to reduce the animal’s body temperature, apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck and chest; provide water and ice cubes for hydration; and move the animal into the shade or air-conditioning.

If you see a child or pet alone in a parked car on a hot day, call 9-1-1.

Learn more extreme heat preparedness at www.ready.gov/heat.

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Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.